Hawaii Decriminalizes Marijuana, but with Strict Limitations
On July 9th, Hawaii joined the ranks of U.S. states – now 26 in total – to pass this type of marijuana reform, according to The Hill. The law, which takes effect in January, 2020, is a step forward for law enforcement and the system as a whole.
Under current rules, up to an ounce of marijuana can lead to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. This new approach substantially diminishes the penalty, but with certain conditions.
Hawaii’s move to decriminalize marijuana was actually not easy. This meant strict opposition, despite medical cannabis being legal there since 2,000. Consequently, it leaves little wiggle room for possession.
But at the end of the day, strict decriminalization is better than outright prohibition.
House Bill 1383
The decriminalization law is known as HB1383. According to the bill, the decriminalization of marijuana in Hawaii comes with a few other changes.
According to the bill’s summary, HB1383:
“Provides for the expungement of criminal records pertaining solely to the possession of three grams or less of marijuana. Decriminalizes the possession of three grams or less of marijuana and establishes that the possession is a violation punishable by a monetary fine of $130. Establishes a marijuana evaluation task force to make recommendations on changing marijuana use penalties and outcomes in the State.”
Expunging criminal records seems to be a common issue when it comes to marijuana reform. Unfortunately, this is where the problems begin.
Very Little Room
Perhaps the only glaring issue with the new law is that three grams is not a lot. Most individuals purchase more than three grams. The fact that Hawaii even prosecuted such cases is frankly surprising.
Most states set the cut-off at one ounce of marijuana, but Hawaii’s three-gram limit makes it the most restrictive decriminalization law in the United States.
The Marijuana Policy Project – an organization that advocates for marijuana reform – addressed this issue, stating:
“Unfortunately, three grams would be the smallest amount of any state that has decriminalized (or legalized) simple possession of marijuana. Still, removing criminal penalties and possible jail time for possession of a small amount of cannabis is an improvement.”
This also raises the question as to how many criminal records will be expunged, given the small possession limit.
But again, some progress is better than no progress at all. Ultimately, this could just be a “baby step” toward full legalization.
WeedAdvisor’s Support for Marijuana Reform
In recent weeks, WeedAdvisor focused a lot of its educational efforts on tracking the progress of legalization decriminalization in various states.
With Hawaii joining the ranks and several states considering the same route, the shift in political attitude toward marijuana is indisputable.
Hopefully, this means that full legalization is just around the corner.